The FN Meka Case and the conundrum with AI Art


Last week I published a piece on the overlap between AI and art and in the few days since that was published, there was crazy very predictable news in the world of AI and art.
For those not updated on the news which I assume is most people, FN Meka is a digital rapper whose lyrics were apparently generated by AI. Now I’ve never heard any FN Meka songs so maybe they are good; but around 2 weeks ago now, FN Meka was signed by Capitol Music Group, one of the major music record labels in the world. This was the first digital artist that was signed to such a major label.
Now, what happened after was very predictable. The speed of it happening, however, was actually quite shocking.
In my previous article, I wrote about the lack of trust that humans put in self-driving cars compared to human drivers.
This seems to have reared its head again.

As FN Meka became more well known because of its signing to a major label, the hip-hop community began to actually examine who was behind FN Meka, in particular, who headed up its development of it.
First off, one of the complaints made by the activist group, Industry Blackout was that FN Meka was a caricature of black culture and black stereotypes. It also wasn’t particularly great that the song they released was with Gunna who is currently in jail on Rico charges. Apparently, FN Meka said the n-word and was even in a video getting beat up by police.
Honestly, it’s a lot. And then people also found out that they were behind the project were not black, but they actually used the sound and culture of a black rapper named Kyle the Hooligan.

He is now suing the company btw because he wasn’t paid for his work apparently.
They could not have possibly dropped the ball more times if they tried. But that’s not all folks, in further news.

The company’s “co-founder” who then said he was just a spokesperson for the project, quit and claimed that there actually wasn’t that much AI technology behind the project in the first place.

Another misunderstanding in the media of what artificial intelligence actually means. We just see something new and claim “it’s AI”. I used to also be like that though because the marketing is truly great.
So, where am I going with this? Because I’m just regurgitating news at this point.
My point with the previous article was that as long as there are humans capable of enjoying art, the fact that humanity has come up with art will hold more weight than AI coming up with art. We are far more trusting of human intelligence than we are of AI in many situations. I think that art is going to be one of those situations where yes, using an AI assistant which many writers have done will be part of the creative process but we still value art highly because it’s created by humans.
It is a part of human creativity.

For the past few weeks, I have seen many pictures from Dalle-2 and Midjourney online, and honestly, they’re splendid, but will they stand the test of time?
Maybe we should create a pop-up based on Midjourney and Dalle-2 art pieces and maybe we can see then how the public would respond.
My whole point of this piece is to say that art is a human endeavour. It always has been. I’m not going to say it always will be, because that would be a ridiculous claim to make, but based on this evidence, it seems like it will be quite a while for humanity to accept AI art and see it as a creative entity.

And just a little point on the creation of AI. The argument is often stated that AI cannot be biased, but if the data itself is created based on the past and the past was inherently biased and gave inherently biased outcomes, logically then isn’t the data simply perpetuating past values? Isn’t the point of AI, to make things more efficient but also better, rather than simply regurgitate the past?
I’ll let one of my favourite scientists Gary Marcus explain in a short tweet.

cred. Gary Marcus on Twitter



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An optimistic critic/cynic of mostly tech, culture and economics. Currently trying to engage with ethical AI.